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Ridgewood Park Opens A Little Free Library

Electronic readers and tablets may be the wave of the future for many book readers. But an old concept -- the free lending library of printed books -- is finding new life in neighborhoods wanting to build a sense of community.
 
The concept has been popularized by Wisconsin nonprofit, Little Free Library, since 2009. The libraries pop up in yards, along bicycle trails and in parks in the guise of small wood boxes perched on thick posts and stuffed with paper books. The idea is to take a book to read and leave a book for someone else to read.
 
On April 12 Ridgewood Park residents will celebrate their Little Free Library, located in a linear park in the 2300 block of Glenwood Drive, off Columbus Drive. 
 
A day of celebration kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with refreshments and live music. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner is a guest speaker for the unveiling. The free library is funded with a mini-grant from the county's neighborhood relations office.
 
"I've wanted one for ages for the neighborhood," says Stacey Warder, president of the Ridgewood Park Crime Prevention and Civic Association. "It's not only literacy building, it's a unique piece of art. It's community building."
 
Ridgewood's Little Free Library is joining nearly 15,000 other libraries that have sprouted across the world. Wisconsin craftsman, Todd Bol, started the literacy movement when he built a tiny replica of a one-room school house and set it out on his lawn. He placed a sign saying "free books" and invited neighbors to share and swap books. Bol was honoring his mother, a former school teacher with a passion for reading.
 
The Ridgewood library resembles a little house. Warder added a coat of primer and artist Angie Cannata, of Lodestar Studio, constructed a glass mosaic with trees and a tin roof. Cannata also crafted a glass mosaic with the neighborhood's logo and Tampa's skyline in the background, which was installed on a storm drain cover. The neighborhood of bungalows is bounded by Columbus Avenue, North Boulevard and the Hillsborough River.
 
Shellie Posey will serve as library steward, checking to make sure the box is supplied with a mix of title selections. Initially, about 30 or so donated books will fill the box. 
 
Warder says a second library box has been ordered for children's books. It will be placed next to the first Little Free Library, and also added to the world map.
 
As an official Little Free Library, the site will be added to the Little Free Library's world map. "It's quite impressive," Warder says. "They are all over the world."
 
Little Free Library encourages the spread of these free libraries in a variety of ways. They sell the ready-made libraries but they are just as happy to see other nonprofits, individuals or organizations adopt the concept and build their own.
 
Mitzi Gordon, founder of Bluebird Books Bus, is a free library enthusiast whose nonprofit has sponsored four free libraries, two in St. Petersburg and two in Tampa. The most recent was set up in Seminole Heights.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Stacey Warder, Ridgewood Park Crime Prevention and Civic Association

SMARTstart Gets Second Business Incubator In New Port Richey

One success leads to another as the Pasco Economic Development Council prepares to open a second business incubator site for its SMARTstart program, this time in New Port Richey.
 
A May 1 opening for the new business center is planned inside a city-owned former post office building at 6347 Grand Blvd. City officials also are looking to open a city-operated "maker-space" program to encourage business creation.
 
The building had been unused for some time, says Krista Covey, SMARTstart's business incubator manager and PEDC's economic development manager. "They (New Port Richey) were trying to support entrepreneurship and spur business development in downtown New Port Richey," she says. "We obviously have had great success with the Smartstart program."
 
SMARTstart will occupy the largest share of the approximately 9,000-square-foot building. Covey says two potential start-up applicants are under review. "They have not been approved yet," she says.
 
About 40 volunteers pitched in to spruce up the building in April. Work crews are completing renovations, including painting and installation of an emergency exit.
 
The partnership of SMARTstart and the city's maker-space program is "a first that I'm aware of," says Mario Iezzino, New Port Richey's economic development director. "It's a really great marriage between two concepts that are able to help get viable new businesses started."
 
The city is awaiting funds for maker-space, probably in the fall, Iezzino says. The program is designed to give entrepeneurs the tools to turn ideas into businesses.
 
"It brings in a different kind of entrepreneur," he says. "We have a lot of tinkerers. It's another way people can bring their ideas out of the garage."
 
The new SMARTstart incubator will be modeled on the first one at the Dade City Business Center, which has five on-site start-up companies and two off-site companies. The start-ups are The Busy Buddy, Stephanie Reed Photography, Innovative Payroll Services, H.B. Whitaker, Arielle Management Group, Flying R Group LLC, and Computers Etc.

An open house is scheduled for the business center from noon to 3 p.m. Friday at 15000 Citrus Country Drive, Suite 103, Dade City.
 
SMARTstart offers resources and support for people starting a business, moving from a home-based business or re-establishing a business. Services include consulting and mentoring, one-on-one counseling, business plan development and marketing advice.
 
A network of agencies and organizations provide support including Saint Leo University whose faculty and students assist in developing business and marketing plans.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Mario Iezzino, City of New Port Richey

Artist Chosen For Public Art Project At Perry Harvey Sr. Park

Pittsburgh artist James Simon will bring his signature larger-than-life sculptures to a proposed redesign of Perry Harvey Sr. Park, a multiyear project  that will honor Tampa's black community and its musical heritage.
 
His work includes Liberty Avenue Musicians,  three 15-foot musicians installed in historical downtown Pittsburgh. There is also a Chattanooga fiddler in Tennessee, and a 16-foot tall Buckeye Trumpet Man in Cleveland, Ohio, in a former parking lot that is now a plaza and the home of the Buckeye Jazz Festival.
 
Tampa City Council last week approved a $15,000 contract for Simon to design artwork for Perry Harvey Sr. Park's southern gateway. He competed against 160 applicants who submitted proposals to the city's Arts Program Division.
 
In a competitive review where artists' names were kept secret, Simon's art stood out.
 
"He seemed like he got the right feel," says Robin Nigh, the city's arts manager. "We wanted something fun, celebratory, something that driving by had a 'wow' factor and really captured the specialness of the park because it's a landmark opportunity."
 
Simon's submitted design is preliminary. Nigh says the final design likely will be available in March or April.
 
Public art is planned for the park and also for Encore, a $425 million mixed-income housing and retail complex being built by Tampa Housing Authority adjacent to Perry Harvey park.  Encore will replace the former Central Park Village public housing complex which was torn down several years ago.
 
The park and Encore are part of a major effort to revitalize the once-vibrant neighborhood north of downtown once known as the Scrub. The area was founded after the Civil War by freed slaves. It also was the scene of a thriving black business and entertainment district which was decimated in the 1960s and '70s by highway widening projects and urban renewal.
 
Musical legends Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Hank Ballard and James Brown were among those who performed at clubs on Central Avenue.
 
Other artists have been identified for additional public art projects at Perry Harvey. Massachusetts-based artist and filmmaker Rufus Butler Seder submitted a proposal for the park's history walk which will feature notable events and people in the neighborhood's history.  Local muralist Mike Parker is slated for artwork to honor community and national leaders.
 
An artist also is being sought to create a statue of the late Perry Harvey Sr., a civil rights leader and founder of Tampa's first black union, the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402.

The city currently is seeking photographs or home movies from individuals or institutions regarding Tampa's black neighborhoods including the Central Avenue business district, the Scrub and Dobyville. Images will be used for a public art installation and should be submitted by Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. For information, visit the City of Tampa's website or call 813-274-8531.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Robin Nigh, City of Tampa

Next Urbanism On Tap: 'Where Do You Come From?'

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at New World Brewery in Ybor City on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, starting at 5:30 p.m. This open mic format event is designed to generate constructive conversations about current ideas and trends that are shaping Tampa.

The event entitled "Where Do You Come From?'' is the third in a three-part series that started last fall. It will focus on understanding some critical questions such as: Why does one choose to live in a particular neighborhood? How do you know you are in your neighborhood? How should the neighborhood change and what should stay the same? Seeking answers to some of these key questions will help us understand the issues and challenges in our neighborhoods and the role these building blocks play in our City.

In the event, the organizers intend to engage attendees with innovative tools like preparing ''mind maps.'' Mind Maps are people's perception about their neighborhoods and the places they visit on a regular basis. It may be a rough hand drawn map or an image, or text, which conveys how one associates and perceives his or her neighborhood.

The organizers encourage people to share their photos and things they like about their neighborhood by visiting Urbanism on Tap's online Facebook page. People can also use apps available on smart phones to make mind maps and post it online.

Overall, the intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance the ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

Urbanism on Tap is an event focused on generating a dialogue within the community led by the Urban Charette and CNU Tampa Bay. Moderators and attendees can share their stories related to the topic of the day. Every event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend and share their views.

Following the event, everyone is encouraged to continue the conversation online through the Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page or website.

Venue: New World Brewery, Ybor City (1313 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605)
Date and Time: Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For more information, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry and Ashly Anderson, CNU Tampa Bay

Alternative Art Gallery Moves Into New Space In Seminole Heights

Tempus Projects art gallery didn't move very far from where it started more than three years ago, but the new address is opening up a world of artistic opportunities.
 
At 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 Tempus Projects will host an open house at its new digs at 4636 N. Florida Ave. That's only a few blocks from its former address, also on Florida.
 
"The old space was just about 800 square feet. It was a converted garage behind a commercial building. We didn't have air conditioning or a bathroom," says Founder and Creative Director Tracy Midulla Reller. "As far as alternative space goes, it was very alternative."
 
Now Tempus Projects has it all: a visible storefront, more space with high ceilings, air conditioning and bathrooms that meet federal handicap accessibility standards. And, there is more wall space and room space for exhibits as well as musical and performance art shows. 
 
For now though Reller says, "The space will be very raw. (The open house) is just a sneak preview to see the bare bones of the space layout, and to have a holiday party."
 
Reller is an art professor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa's historic Ybor City. Tempus Projects is part of a burgeoning artists' colony in Seminole Heights. Artists Taylor Pilote, Theo Wujcik and Roger Chamieh are among those who show their works at Tempus Projects.
 
Tempus' board of directors began looking for a new location to rent in June when it was clear a larger venue was needed.
"It's because we needed to be able to house large projects," Reller says. 
 
Reller started Tempus Projects in 2009 with a handful of artists. It was a collaborative endeavor to foster artistic works from all mediums including painting, sculpture, multi-media and performance art. For the second year Tempus Projects will work with the Gasparilla Arts Festival in presenting a multi-media exhibit.
 
The nonprofit is supported by community grants, donations and fund-raising events.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tracy Midulla Reller, Tempus Projects

Love Your City? Participate In Local Tactical Urbanism Workshop

Urbanists from all over the Tampa Bay region are invited to participate in a Tactical Urbanism Movement workshop on Wednesday, October 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Beck Group, 220 West 7th Avenue, in Tampa.

Tactical Urbanism is a rapidly growing international movement of small-scale, temporary, low-cost, high-reward actions that lead to an immediate improvement in a community's public life, often followed by long-term urban interventions. Guerilla Gardening, Pavement-to-Parks or Reclaiming a Parking Space are some of the examples of Tactical Urbanism that are currently being applied by citizens in many U.S. cities.
 
The local Tactical Urbanism Workshop is coordinated by the Sun Coast Section of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, in collaboration with the Congress for New Urbanism-Tampa Bay. Mike Lydon, an internationally recognized planner, writer and an advocate for livable cities, will lead the workshop.

"It will be exciting to be a part of this urban place-making movement that is currently sweeping our country's major cities,'' says Lauren Matzke, a Clearwater City Planner and the workshop's main coordinator.

As a part of the workshop, participants will get hands-on experience in planning and intervening on an actual site in Downtown Tampa. Apart from promising a fun planning experience, the workshop also intends to train the participants on how to plan, fund and carry out these projects throughout the Tampa Bay region.

The event is expected to draw a variety of participants such as engaged citizens, stakeholders, designers, engineers, urban planners, students, local leaders, government officials and other advocates who are passionate about their city and urban experiences. You can RSVP here.

Tactical Urbanism was named as one of the top trends in 2012 by the urban planning website Planetizen. Implementation of this movement in the Tampa Bay region is expected to inspire innovative planning ideas, urban interventions and collaborations.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Lauren Matzke, City of Clearwater

City Of Tampa Launches Neighborhood University

Neighborhood Association leaders and others in Tampa now have a chance to build leadership skills and learn more about city government.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently launched a Neighborhood University program with the goal of encouraging civic association leaders while creating ambassadors for the City.

"It’s a great way for people to learn more about what’s going on in the City of Tampa and feel more a part of what’s happening," says Jake Slater, neighborhood empowerment administrator for the City of Tampa. "Most people only know what they see on the news and read in the paper. Now they will see the folks behind the scenes making it happen."

The city has more than 90 neighborhood associations tasked with maintaining or improving the quality of life and sense of community. Activities include historic preservation, crime watch and maintaining open lines of communication with city government.

The 12-session class kicks off September 10 and includes behind the scenes information about budgeting, Tampa Police and Fire Rescue and utilities as well as information about using social media. Participants will learn skills to help establish and maintain overall successful neighborhood organizations, as well as experience the inner workings of the City of Tampa administration.

The 65 participants selected from more than 150 applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, ages and occupations from attorneys to retired military to pastors.

"Tampa is moving very quickly," says Slater. "There’s a new energy, lots of things going on in downtown, Sulfur Springs, South Tampa," citing this as possible reasons for the high interest in the new program. "You go to downtown Tampa on the weekends, and it’s alive! It’s hard to find a place to park."

Next steps include finetuning the program with input from members as well as sharing it with other cities, who are already asking for more information.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jake Slater, City of Tampa

Crumb & Cork Jazzes Up Franklin Street After Dark

Clusters of ribbon cuttings have brought a bustling feel to downtown Tampa as new businesses open their doors. Downtown sidewalks and restaurants are rich with activity during the work day, but Crumb & Cork, a new wine and cheese bar soon to open, will spark activity from day to night. Owner Joshua Pollick and his partner Joseph Saine are adding authenticity to downtown by jazzing up the atmosphere on Franklin Street.

"We have seen the recent resurgence of life and activity in the downtown area," says Pollick.  "We see a bright future in downtown from our landmark address at 501 North Franklin." 

Pollick chose downtown because it is well-served by public transportation, has friendly Downtown Ambassadors, a business-friendly climate, and an administration that has its listening-ears on for ways to make downtown more livable, walkable and enjoyable. 

"The close proximity of beautiful parks, the Riverwalk and gorgeous new residential buildings have reshaped the way we see our city," explains Pollick.

Crumb & Cork seeks to build a unique experience with over 130 wine selections and live jazz music. The space is designed to be comfortable, a place to relax with friends. Sidewalk lounging will accompany the stylish indoor seating. Patrons will be able to enjoy Sunday brunch, workday lunch, happy hours and evenings out.  A graduate of the University of South Florida, Pollick says he's proud to bring a locally owned USF “Bull Business" to downtown.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Joshua Pollick, owner, Crumb & Cork

Adamo Drive Mural Nears Completion, Ybor City

After two years of fundraising efforts and months of work, the Adamo Drive Mural project is making progress toward completion.

The approximately $30,000 project is expected to enhance the appeal of the Ybor City Historic District, transforming industrial weather-beaten portions of Adamo Drive into a work of art representing the culture, heritage and vitality of both Ybor City and Tampa; the mural covers the rear exterior of a 370-by-35-foot space on the 12,000-square-foot Fabricated Products Building at 17th Street and Adamo Drive.

“Art projects such as these not only help to illustrate a rich history and bring students, artists and residents together, but they can stimulate a renewal of energy in urban areas,” says Dave Scott, the project's organizer. “Recently, several major cities such as Omaha, Nebraska and Chattanooga, Tennessee have embraced similar art projects as a smart investment to attract potential investors, visitors and residents. I hope this mural is the spark that helps ignite a greater spirit of renewal in Ybor and the downtown area.”

Spanning two blocks, project organizers believe the Adamo Drive Mural to be one of the largest outdoor murals in the state of Florida. Designed by local artist Mike Parker, the mural depicts the vitality of Ybor City, focusing on the people and families that continue to make the neighborhood what it is today: One continuously welcoming and embracing new ideas, businesses and faces.

“The mural is a tribute to the history of Ybor City. It even reflects the character of the neighborhood today; it’s bright, interesting, and forward-looking,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Public art projects like this are an important economic driver and help us define Ybor as a creative place.”

As part of the preplanning process for the project, Parker taught a class at  Hillsborough Community College where students immersed themselves into the history, heritage and current feel of the Ybor City neighborhood. Through research of the neighborhood and interviews with residents, Parker and the HCC students were able to integrate the results into a mural that tells the story of Ybor City.

“We too often forget that Tampa has one of the greatest examples of people embracing the 'American Dream',” Scott says. “The mural can be an inspiration to all of us to make the most of our talent and potential -- an important perspective for the renaissance of Ybor and the growth of the Tampa Bay area.”

An on-site dedication by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and local community leaders is planned for the community-driven project on Tuesday, May 21st at 2 p.m.

In addition to the City of Tampa and Ybor City Development Corporation, the project has been supported by local businesses including the Columbia Restaurant, Rotary International, Kimmins Contracting Corp., Vykin Corp., Actsoft Inc., Hoffman Porges Gallery, Fabricated Products, Ybor City Round Table, Protective Coating Solutions, Inc., Safway Scaffolding and Acccess Solutions, Corrosion Specialties, Inc., Sherwin-Willliams, Ring Power's Cat Rental Store, Glendale Painting Corp., Empire Paint, Brandon School of Dance Arts, Salem Enterprise Solutions, Radiant Oil, Bad Monkey Ybor, Special Forces Motorcycle Club, Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club and La Gaceta.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Dave Scott, Adamo Drive Mural; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

Makerspace Project Brings Public Creative Spaces To Tampa Bay

Bringing together residents, organizations, businesses and agencies interested in changing culture through the creation of accessible, sustainable and enduring creative public spaces throughout the Tampa Bay area, non-profit education group Learning is for Everyone (LI4E) is heading the LI4E Makerspace Project, providing places where everyone can learn, innovate, manufacture and create locally.

Promoting personally fulfilling and economically productive ways, the Makerspace Project's first project has been donated by local South Tampa homeowner Terre Tulsiak; Tulsiak says she wants to give people the chance to feel capable and be capable to learn more if they want, giving them a place and chance to do so.

“Because then they'll want to,” Tulsiak says.

It will be more than six months before Tulsiak's donation of her home and property will become operational as LI4E currently gathers information on the cost of finishing the interior of the home, zoning issues and potential collaborative partners.

“I think this location is fabulous because it's urban, residential, accessible and inclusive-- all the things a public creative space should be,” says LI4E Founder and President Terri Willingham. “The size of the home, large yard and community where the home is located all lend itself to our small scale, light-use educational and environmental sustainability focus.”

Tulsiak and Willingham plan to create a space where skills can be learned, honed and advanced; ideas incubated and tested; and an agrarian-self-supporting venture developed, with the home potentially becoming a catalyst for people to refine sustainable businesses.

Specifically, Tulsiak is looking to work with LI4E's Makerspace Project to explore creating “a collaborative, stimulating, encouraging place for people to come to together to learn how to think more clearly, more expansively and more productively,” she says.

Ultimately, both Tulsiak and Willingham see the South Tampa home becoming a “health club for the mind,” featuring a community garden, laboratory for sustainability and entrepreneurial efforts, small-scale workshop for 3D printing and prototyping and classroom space.

“This is a beautiful, useful and collaborative community project. The house is a blank canvas, and the community is the collective artist,” Willingham says. “Makerspaces provide culture-changing opportunity to move from passive consumption to active creation. They're good for individuals and neighborhoods, providing community-enhancing ways to repurpose unused or abandoned spaces, becoming community gathering places by putting capacity building and resource development into the hands of area residents who need it most.”

Willingham hopes this project will kick start a flurry of makerspace projects, empowering local, ordinary people to become extraordinary makers of both their personal futures, as well as the Tampa Bay area's, as a whole.

Apart from the South Tampa project, LI4E has been working with Pasco County libraries to help create makerspaces in their public library system. Keep an eye out for more makerspace projects throughout the Tampa Bay area and get involved by contacting LI4E at info@learningis4everyone.org or (813) 728-2822.

Check out the Tampa Bay Makers Consortium Directory and Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire website to learn more about similar efforts going on in the area.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone

CoCreativ Opens New Coworking Space In St. Pete

A drop-in workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs and on-the-go professionals in the Tampa Bay region, CoCreativ will open on Second Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.

CoCreativ President and CEO Joseph Warren says he plans to redefine the modern workspace, promoting coworking in St. Pete with a cheap, alternative to typical makeshift offices and meeting spaces like Starbucks and Panera.

“Working on the go just got a whole lot easier,” Warren says. “People use makeshift office and meeting spaces because they have no place else to go. CoCreativ provides them with a flexible and professional workspace they can drop into as needed.”

Promoting an energetic and supportive community, CoCreativ's 5,500-square-foot pilot space is on the 12th floor of the Wells Fargo Plaza at 150 2nd Avenue North in downtown St. Pete. The space will feature a lounge area, private meeting room and conference room, as well as several rooms and cubbyholes for “heads down” work. CoCreativ's new space will also include a large multipurpose room for classroom training.

No long-term contracts and unlimited monthly acccess are among some of CoCreativ's features. Members simply drop in, plug in and begin working.

“Coworking spaces already exist in Tampa at places like Oxford Exchange, CoWork Tampa and FirstWaVE Venture Center, but up until now, St. Pete did not have a coworking space to call its own,” Warren says. “With all of the amenities that today's mobile professionals desire, such as great restaurants, cafes, nightlife and cultural variety, downtown St. Pete is the perfect place to launch our concept.”

CoCreativ will officially open the doors to a temporary location at the Wells Fargo Plaza on March 18th with plans to move to a larger, ground floor space in the near future; a pre-launch party and open house will be held on March 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Coworking is being driven by a growing and more cohesive tech ecosystem that is quickly gaining national attention as a great place for start ups to launch,” Warren says. “We think we have a pretty solid understanding of our customers' needs and desires. Heck, we're part of our own target market for CoCreativ -- we designed this space for us too!”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Joseph Warren, CoCreativ

Men's Lifestyle Apparel Company Chooses CoWork Tampa, Focuses On Environment

Black & Denim Apparel Company, a men's lifestyle apparel company looking to take the green route by taking care of the environment with fashionable, eco-friendly clothing, has picked the Tampa Bay region to base its headquarters.

Black & Denim searched for a space to house an office and showroom, ultimately stumbling upon CoWork Tampa's entrepreneurial atmosphere, which offers the opportunity to interact with other companies, all under one roof.

"Instead of cities that have garment districts -- New York or Los Angeles -- we did a bit of research and it turns out that when the embargo hit, a lot of cigar factories in Tampa became sewing facilities,'' says Roberto Torres, president of Black & Denim. "Tampa's a natural hub, with one of the most active port systems in Florida, so we dug into the area's roots and decided to help create a garment district. We're trying to harness all of the talent coming out of design schools and major universities, which is paramount for our growth.''

According to Torres, Black & Denim -- which, by the way, is made and sourced entirely out of the United States -- plans to ultimately make CoWork Tampa a permanent home for the company with plans to house machinery on an empty floor, advertising their factory as a "must see destination for tourists,'' he says.

But for now, Black & Denim is focusing on the environment, calling "green technology fashion's new black'' with the launch of a kickstarter project in hopes of showing the region -- and the country -- that fashionable, eco-friendly clothing is possible. One technology currently being utilized by the company includes water-based inks versus traditional plastisol, which is harmful to the environment and, potentially, those wearing it. Sampling and upcycled materials are also a focus for the brand.

"We are thrilled to be able to add to the Tampa Bay economy: We're local and support the local shops and enterprises driving this town,'' Torres says. "One day, we want to be one of those 103-year-old businesses that calls Tampa home. We want to be a part of the history and fabric of the area.''

Black & Denim supports seven local boutiques and employs five employees at the local distribution facility. According to Torres, the company is looking to not only continue supporting local jobs, but create job opportunities in the near future.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Roberto Torres, Black & Denim Apparel Company

Pasco County Launches Business Incubator, Dade City

Pasco County entrepreneurs soon will be able to take advantage of the county's first business incubator.

On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Dade City Commissioners showed support for local entrepreneurs by approving $50,000 to launch the first business incubator in Pasco County; the incubator will be located in the Dade City Business Center on Citrus Villas Lane and managed by a team led by the Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC).

“The incubator project represents a fantastic opportunity for Dade City in job creation, promotion of our community as 'open for business' and supporting entrepreneurship,” says John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working with our partners in promoting this new growth while maintaining our unique, old Florida sense of community.”

The Dade City Business Center location will play a big role, helping the Pasco EDC to assist start-up companies or early stage businesses grow, add local jobs and receive necessary technical assistance; Saint Leo University has offered to partner with the EDC on this venture, offering that assistance to start-ups.

“The incubator completes a long-term objective for Saint Leo's Donald R. Tapia School of Business to deepen our support to the local business community and provide opportunities for our students and faculty to engage in creating new businesses,” says School of Business Dean Michael Nastanski.

The incubator coming into fruition has been a year in the making by the Pasco EDC.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: John Moors, Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce; Michael Nastanski, Saint Leo University

Uhsome Media, Marketing Opens In Sarasota HuB

Local Tampa media and marketing agency Uhsome has announced an expansion, bringing the company's growth to the Sarasota area.

The brains behind CoWorkTampa, a Tampa-based coworking loft offering affordable memberships to local freelancers and entrepreneurs, Uhsome's new 300-square-foot office will be housed inside of HuB's newly opened space at 1680 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. The HuB space celebrated the grand opening of the Fruitville Road location in December 2012.

“Sarasota is an up and coming, wealthy area with a lot of baby boomers needing online assistance,” says Uhsome CEO Chris Arnoldi. “HuB is at the forefront of the technology scene and is definitely the spot to be. We like associating ourselves with people doing it the right way.”

Since 2009, HuB has been active in promoting big ideas in Sarasota and their renovation of a 10,000-square-foot building is continuing to embrace that concept by housing innovative tech companies, entrepreneurs and creative/tech startups. HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. worked on the renovation with Sarasota's HOYT Architects and Biter Enterprises.

“We do a lot business with people working out of the HuB already,” Arnoldi says. “We plan to be more efficient and accessible.”

Uhsome will begin operating out of their new HuB office on February 1st, offering the same suite of professional services including everything from web design, hosting, consulting and development to iPhone apps and mobile sites.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Chris Arnoldi, Uhsome

New Art Gallery Opens, Downtown St. Pete

A new art gallery has made its way to the Edge District in downtown St. Pete.

The Basement at Downtown St. Pete -- which, yes, is actually a basement -- is a new 3,000-square-foot exposed brick space, featuring work by up and coming Tampa Bay area artists. Sponsored by local restaurants and bars, The Basement plans to host monthly events.

“The space is so unparalleled it just oozes creativity,” says The Basement's Nicki Odato. “It brings a surge of uniqueness to an already eclectic city.”

Odato, who runs The Basement with friend Sam Renick, says they weren't looking to open an art gallery when they came across the space at 1000 Central Ave. Instead, they were in the process of looking for a studio space for their local furniture design business, Sotted Design, but saw huge potential for an art gallery.

“Everything just happened organically: We came across the space, it made sense and everything fell into place,” Renick says. “We hope that when people visit The Basement, the same feeling we get every time we go down there, transpires to them.”

In addition to displaying local art, The Basement space is available to rent for photoshoots, videos, yoga classes, etc.

“We love out of the box ideas! Nothing is off of the table when it comes to an idea for the space.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Nicki Odato, The Basement
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